NFC South Morning Jog: Panthers Decide Friday Whether Steve Smith Plays Sunday

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NFC South Morning Jog: Panthers Decide Friday Whether Steve Smith Plays Sunday
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Each morning, I like to start the day off with a workout—usually a morning jog. I can clear my head, plan my day, and think about what’s going on around the NFC South.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers will decide Friday whether wide receiver Steve Smith will play Sunday against the New York Jets. Smith has an infection in his foot and has missed two days of practice this week.

Second-year offensive tackle Byron Bell has the size, toughness and intelligence to excel in the NFL, offensive line coach John Matsko told the Charlotte Observer.

Atlanta Falcons

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution lists five things to watch for out of the starters in Friday's game against Miami. Continued success on offense and running back Michael Turner stepping things up a little are high on my list.

New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan spent the previous two seasons in Miami. Nolan returns to Miami for the first time since he left Friday and reflects on that with Fox Sports South.

New Orleans Saints

The linebacker corps survived this week's practice session, according to the Times-Picayune. That's great news for a depleted bunch, but there were still nine players who missed practice Thursday.

New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said the tackling from his defense was "not very good" against Jacksonville, and talked about how difficult it is now to practice tackling because of new practice rules regarding contact and being in pads.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Tampa Tribune has five things to watch when Tampa Bay takes the field Friday against the New England Patriots. I'm keenly interested to watch the secondary play as they try to stop Tom Brady.

As quarterback, Josh Freeman tries to bounce back from a down season in 2011. He also has to unlearn one offensive scheme and learn another, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

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